I decided to go out at the last minute yesterday to catch what I could of local band The Sumerian Kyngs at a pub 'The Pull And Pump' which I had no previous knowledge of. It turned out to be a sweet little venue in Clarence Square a stone's throw from the Clocktower. In fact it was so sweet and little I wondered how they could possibly accommodate such a sprawling outfit as The Kyngs plus an audience in the few square meters that were available. [A space not much bigger than this poster.]
But they did. Before we found out how we had a couple of smaller acts and a comedian to entertain us all presented by Off The Cuff [sorry I can't link you to their Facebook page as every time I try the one they advertise I get connected to a tailor's shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan!].
Well, it seemed that there were a couple of no shows from the poster [Island Jacks(who also failed to turn up unexplainedly to Blaker's Park Community Picnic) and Ian Roland] but the first act up was Kokopelli - a girlie duo composed of vocalist, in the Katie Melua mode I'd say, and guitar accompianist, who gave us some beautiful lilting country-folk tunes which got things off to a lovely start.
Then up stepped the comedian, whose name I am unable to tell you as the PA for the evening wasn't behaving too well and all announcements seemed to be delivered at a rate which would have left John Cooper Clark standing staring at his starting blocks! Anyway here's a portrait of the lad in case you know a man who knows the man....
The poor guy was marrooned in a sea of musos and his opening remarks didn't really hit the spot, but he persisted and very soon grabbed the attention of the assembled multitude with a shaggy dog story involving....something.... which got people chuckling..then guffawing and just as he seemed to be making the grade he delivered the coup de grace, 'Well - that's about all I've got!' ....Talk about 'quit while you're winning'. I'd call it a pre-emptive strike. But what we got was, indeed, very good - I just look forward to when he can do a set rather than a walk-on, walk-off spot.
By this time the venue was filling up and the next act began to show the potential hazard of trying to fit entertainer and audience int to the postage stamp sized space that was the Pull and Pump as they attempted to erect their instruments and mikes. The route from the main part of the bar to the Ladies loo was totally cut off and there had to be a bit a hasty repositioning in order to avoid catastrophe... But once this was resolved we were treated to a very entertaining combo masquerading under the name Boy in The Cupboard.
Here we first experienced the problem of obtaining a picture of a whole band - the geography of the pub just doesn't allow for it. So above you see the main arm of the band - vocals/guitar, double bass and drums, while below you'll see the cello player who seemed to be either a new band member or a friend sitting in for the evening as the singer was constantly calling out key signatures to her. Either way she did very well while having to struggle with poor amplification on her side of the 'stage'.
The band was very much an eye-opener - extremely entertaining and obviously one to watch and look forward to great things eminating from them in the not-too-distant future. Their sound very much centres on the vocalist/guitarist who writes kitchen-sink sagas in the vein of Jilted John delivered with the panache of Robert Smith. He's backed up brilliantly by the very disciplined drummer who clearly has his finger on the pulse and very much enjoys himself into the bargain. The double bass man doubles up with worknam's whistling and will be supported admirably by the celloist once they sort out their sound problems [probably not their problem at all - just gremlins on the night]. I very much look forward to hearing what they can deliver on record in the near future.
Now, we turn to the main attraction of the evening, the Imperial Majesties The Sumerian Kyngs... I'm not going to bore you overmuch with my unabounded praise for this band - I've written about them several times before, so you'll know I'm a fan. Newcomers just need to know they play psychedelic swamp music which includes blues, jazz, electronica and hardline driving straight-down-the-barrel rock.
But tonight's main comment is reserved for the fact that I've been attending gigs given by hundreds of big-name and lesser-known bands for some 45 years now and I think the best performances I've ever seen have been given bythe likes of Van Der Graaf Generator, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Ramones, Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaata, The Mothers of Invention, The Clash, Alice Cooper, ...etc etc etc... but I can truly say, hand-on-heart that this gig by the Sumerian Kyngs could easily be in my Top Twenty Best-Ever Shows.
The clinching factor is that quite apart from the extraordinary individual performances by the like of Kyng Steve on sax [very much in the mode of Captain Beefheart circa Troutmask Replica] and the vocal brilliance of Kyng Tony [a cross between The Captain and Dr John in his Night-Tripper guise] the wonderful empathy between all the band members and the very evident enjoyment they exhibit by just being and playing together making them a wonder and a joy to behold!